New OARH (Organizing Against Racism and Hate) coordinator looks forward to increasing awareness in celebration of diversity in Fort St. James

For April Hilland, her new role as OARH (Organizing Against Racism and Hate) is not about reinventing the wheel.

  • Mar. 9, 2016 10:00 a.m.
April Hilland

April Hilland

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

For April Hilland, her new role as OARH (Organizing Against Racism and Hate) is not about reinventing the wheel, but about continuing the valuable projects and conversations that her predecessors left behind.

“I love how this is all about tearing barriers down, not putting barriers up,” Hilland says.

Hilland, who began her new role in February, is thrilled with what prospects lie ahead.

The B.C. government, through EmbraceBC, has awarded a grant to the College of New Caledonia to continue awareness and understanding of ethnic, social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity in Fort. St. James.

According to Hilland, this isn’t new funding. CNC has received funding for this purpose since 2010 through EmbraceBC.

“It’s all about finding ways in which these issues can be addressed to help make our community safer,” Hilland said.

Hilland will be working closely with the Leadership Advisory Committee, an established group of organizations and individuals who work collaboratively to find new ways to address incidents of racism and hate by actively helping community capacity and skills.

“My goal is to develop a standard and easy to follow community protocol to respond to an incident of racism or hatred in Fort St. James,” Hilland said.

“This allows us to bring resources into the community and to connect and network with businesses so that we can have these important conversations that we don’t normally have.”

Another focus of the OARH program is the delivery of the Safe Harbour training to businesses, organizations and community members.

In 2013, CNC hosted Safe Harbour training to 15 individuals who represented various businesses and organizations in the Fort St. James area.

“My hope is that those businesses who were part of the training will want to recertify as a Safe Harbour location by participating in the newly developed training as well as help draw in new organizations and individuals,” Hilland said.

The goal of offering this training is two-fold according to Hilland.

“It recognises the effort that businesses and organizations make to support diversity and inclusion as well as prepare employees and worksites as to how to provide support and an immediate safe place for someone experiencing discrimination.”

For Hilland, it’s not just about stopping racism. It can also include issues where gender roles and ageism are concerned.

“It encompasses everyone,” Hilland says.

“I grew up in very sheltered environment. It wasn’t culturally diverse. The more I was exposed at university and beyond, the more I realised what a rich tapestry B.C. is and I’ve seen people not as excepting of diversity,” she said.

“We should not be threatened by it. We should celebrate it.”

Safe Harbour workshops are expected to be offered in April or May.

If you are interested in either participating in the Leadership Advisory Committee or in taking the Safe Harbour training, please contact OARH Coordinator, April Hilland at the Learning Hub at: (250) 996-7078 or at: hillanda1@cnc.bc.ca